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Following in Steinbeck's footsteps, half a century on from Travels With Charley

In 1960 John Steinbeck and his dog Charley set out in their green pickup truck to rediscover the soul of America, visiting small towns and cities from New York to New Orleans.The trip became Travels With Charley, one of his best-loved books.

Half a century on, Geert Mak sets off from Steinbeck’s home. Mile after mile, as he retraces Steinbeck’s footsteps through the potato fields of Maine to the endless prairies of the Midwest and stumbles across glistening suburbs and boarded-up stores, Mak searches for the roots of America and what remains of the world Steinbeck describes. How has America changed in the last fifty years; what remains of the American dream; and what do Europe and America now have in common?


Where Steinbeck generally avoided the hubbub of big cities, Mak balances descriptions of the rural plains and towns that symbolize the country's early origins with fascinating sections on urban growth and decay... An ambitious and enjoyable take on America's story

Times Literary Supplement

Rambling, thoughtful, often funny... Wonderful


[A] smart, deep-rooted state of the nation report from Main Street, USA

The Times

Perfect for armchair travellers

Choice Magazine

The lyrical story of two journeys interwoven with a broad history and witty observations about the changes of place and people over the past 50 years

Julia Richardson, Daily Mail

The vividness of life is also superbly drawn with exchanges between Mak, and many of the people that he meets on the journey. There are also copious notes and research used to back up many of the points that Mak makes, and how they relate to both Steinbeck’s times, and how things are now.

Ben Macnair, Nudge

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    December 15, 2015


    560 pages

    RRP $27.99

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